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10-minute dengue diagnosis kit could hit market in 12 months

Doctors may soon need only 10 minutes to determine if a patient is infected with dengue - one-third the amount of time the fastest test kit in the market in Singapore currently takes.

SINGAPORE: Doctors may soon need only 10 minutes to determine if a patient is infected with dengue - one-third the amount of time the fastest test kit in the market in Singapore currently takes.

However, that depends on how soon the technology for the faster dengue test kit, designed by Nanyang Technological University scientist Vladislav Papper, can be commercialised into a product.

There is currently no vaccine or specific anti-viral medicine that fights dengue, which makes early diagnosis key to prompt treatment for a disease that may cause fatal complications.

Dr Papper's proposal is among seven research projects that were awarded grants of up to S$250,000 each by the National Research Foundation in December to commercialise into products within 12 months, under its 10th Proof-of-concept grant call.

Two other awardees are in the medical device and pharmaceutical/biotechnology categories, while the remaining four are in the engineering category.

Singapore saw its worst dengue outbreak last year, with more than 22,000 people infected with the mosquito-borne disease. Seven people died from dengue last year, while the disease has claimed its first victim this year in early January - a 59-year-old woman who died from dengue haemorrhagic fever.

As of Monday night, there are 53 active dengue clusters in Singapore, according to the National Environment Agency's dengue website.

Rosewood Drive in Woodlands is currently the worst-hit area, with 37 cases, of which six are cases reported in the last two weeks. Four other areas - Jurong West Street 52, Farrer Road, Lorong Kismis and Telok Kurau - have also seen more than 10 cases each, in total.

There were 175 cases recorded last week, which is a 12-month low, though the figures only take into account cases over five days instead of the usual seven days because of the Chinese New Year holiday.

The preceding week registered 336 cases.

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